When Jace Langen, a sophomore bio-chemistry major and
microbiology minor from Iowa Park, Texas, enrolled in Hardin-Simmons
University’s Leadership Studies Program, he never dreamed that it would lead to
the bike ride of his life.
Over the spring semester, Langen and seven other riders
began building endurance for a journey that would include the low,
palm-tree-dotted flats of South Texas, the rolling terrain of the Texas Hill
Country, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, and a wrap-up 925 miles later in Liberal,
“The purpose of the trip was to give leadership students firsthand
experience with organization, problem-solving, teamwork, and learning to be
aware of individual differences,” said Dr. Coleman Patterson, professor of
management and leadership and director of the Leadership Studies Program at
When Patterson proposed the south-to-north trip across the
entirety of Texas, students readily accepted the adventure, which included a
vast amount of preparation outside of class time.
“We met every Thursday morning in a zero-credit hour class
to plan the ride and spent many hours outside of class riding and training
together. All of that planning paid off very well,” said Patterson as he
reflected on the journey that ended up with one scratched knee and 13 flat
tires over the seven-plus days on the road.
In preparation for the journey, the students raised $4,300
from various companies with a large sponsorship from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas.
Families and friends also helped to make the ride possible with donations.
Referred to as Bike Ride Across Texas 2 (BRAT 2), this
year’s ride was the second time for Leadership Studies students to bike across Texas.
Last May another group of leadership students rode from El Paso to Texarkana.
The BRAT 2014 route included stops in Brownsville, Premont, Uvalde, Leakey,
Abilene, Paducah, Wheeler, and Liberal, Kansas, with students being hosted by Baptist
churches in most of the cities.
“Through the planning, preparation, and execution of the
project, leadership students also learned goal setting, critical thinking,
conflict resolution, supportive communication, and project management,” said
Patterson. “The Bike Ride Across Texas gave students the opportunity to
practice and develop leadership and organization skills in a real project.”
The bike trip began Saturday, May 10, 2014, as students drove with two support
vehicles loaded with bikes and gear to Brownsville, Texas, where they started
the bike route despite strong winds and dogs chasing behind them.
Churches along the route hosted the riders and included
First Baptist-Premont, where students were invited to speak at the evening
service; Tilden Baptist-Tilden; First Baptist-Eden; First Baptist-Paducah;
First-Baptist-Wheeler; and First Baptist-Liberal. For the hospitality,
students left behind an array of HSU pens, pencils, stickers, view books,
pennants, BRAT t-shirts, and coffee mugs. Students were also hosted by the
LaQuinta Inn in Brownsville and at the HEB Foundation Camp in Leakey.
“During our overnight stops, we discussed what we have learned,
and continue to learn, about obesity prevention, exercise, and healthy living,”
said Langen. “Riding our bikes across the state was a good way to illustrate
healthy living in practice.”
Presentations at Abilene’s Austin Elementary and Taylor Elementary at the
ride’s mid-point layover put HSU students face-to-face with fifth-graders eager
to make fitness and exercise regular parts of their lives said Patterson.
“We also discussed the proper hand signals to use when
biking, how to map safe routes, what to wear when riding a bike, and how proper
nutrition helps to supply your body’s energy demands,” said Langen.
Using a leap-frog technique to cover much of the vastness of
Texas, three riders ended with more than 400 miles completed, three students chalked
up more than 300, and two riders ended the trip with more than 200 miles. Three
riders covered more than 100 miles a day on the second half of the trip through
the Texas Panhandle and Patterson was just 15 miles away from reaching the 500-mile
Patterson and Aaron Henry, a freshman rider and psychology
major from Lewisville, Texas, even rode an extra 40 miles on the day before
heading out to Brownsville with the Texas Baptist Bike Out Hunger riders as
they passed through Abilene.
“The eight of us who made the ride were excellent ambassadors for
HSU,” said Patterson who is already planning possibilities for future rides.
“We had planned to wait two years to restock the Leadership Studies Program
with enough crazy people to try a similar experience again,” he quipped, “but
we are already thinking about a ride to Canada next summer.”
Funding and sponsors of BRAT 2:
“The student group exceeded its fundraising goals for the trip with support from BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas, Biketown, West Techs, Texas Martial Arts Center, Abi-Haus, Long Horn Steakhouse—New Braunfels, HSU Athletics, and many generous family members and friends—including some special ones from HSU,” said Patterson. “This adventure would not have been possible without the generous support of all of our sponsors.”
Special Recognition by President’s
BRAT2 received a special recognition in late April as it was
named an “Advocate” for the President’s Challenge.
The President’s Challenge is a part of the President’s Council
on Physical Fitness that advocates and encourages fitness, healthy living, and
wellness in communities across the nation.
The Leadership Studies Program will have its name and
project description listed on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness website
for the next year.
the Leadership Studies Program:
both in and out of the classroom as students participate in case studies, travel
courses, a variety of special topic courses, and outdoor adventure-education
courses like the bike ride,” said Dr. Coleman Patterson. “These all help to
complete the Leadership Studies experience.”
Throughout the school
year, Leadership students work with nonprofit organizations to implement and
practice the concepts that they study in the classroom. As they create and
perform service projects, their goal is to meet real community needs.
Students are expected
to maintain acceptable grade point averages in all of their college coursework
and be involved in organizations on campus, in their church, and in the
“We are looking
for people who want to make differences in their communities and in the lives
of others,” said Patterson. “Leadership and teamwork skills are developed
through outside-of-class service learning and experiential learning activities
in the classroom.”
Students participated in the International Model United
Nations Conference in Vienna, Austria, the National Model U.N. Conference in Washington
D.C., and Howard Payne University Security Council Simulation Conferences in
2013 and 2014.
Sponsors, photos, videos,
and route map:
Photos and videos from the ride: